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Monthly Archives: July 2012

The following is a post from CodeGuard CEO, David Moeller. Exploring challenges the Atlanta Startup Community faces within their companies is beneficial for the community. It fosters greater mentorship and educates other entrepreneurs in similar scenarios. 

This sh*t is hard.

If starting a company was easy, everyone would be doing it. The reality is that it is incredibly difficult to start a company, whether you are utilizing an already proven business model or creating a new one. Granted, if you open a dry cleaners in a new suburb that is lacking one, the odds are that you will succeed, because the risk profile is much lower than launching a tech startup, but the reward is also correspondingly lower.

I left a meeting last week with a BIG potential partner and wasn’t super-excited at the outcome. We gained tremendous insights into ways we can improve our technology, and now have line-of-sight on a solution should we encounter the “happy” problem of working with thousands of websites from the same hosting provider’s server. Single server. Not across servers. Thousands of sites on one server.

This is not a problem we are encountering right now, but this partner is thinking about deep scalability problems we may encounter should our service become ubiquitous. Why was the meeting tough? Because I want to partner now. Not when we have scalability for trillions of websites perfectly figured out.

Knowledge is power, though, and I am glad we had this meeting now – and have a definitive response from the CEO. In similar fashion, I was able to speak with two CEOs of other potential partners at HostingCon last week, and also rule them out as partners for right now. For me, one way of finding the *right* partners is by crossing companies/organizations with a certain profile or vertical off the list. Each company crossed off is one step closer to the perfect partner.

So as not to fill the post with doom & gloom, at HostingCon I was also able to connect with a CEO whom I have been interacting with for a short while. There is a good chance we will be integrating with their technology and offering CodeGuard to their users. And now I know who to focus on finding more of : ).

Don’t give up. It has to be tough. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.

- David Moeller, CEO of CodeGuard

Atlanta Startup Community Bottom Line: Don’t ever give up. Finding who isn’t your customer can be just as valuable – in terms of ROI – as finding who is.

It was awesome hosting David Cummings in Boulder last night with the SalesLoft team. David is arguably the most influential entrepreneur in Atlanta.

Yesterday he wrote one of the most forward thinking posts on the Atlanta Startup Community I’ve read in…forever. Each one is spot on and happening weekly in Boulder, Colorado. Let’s explore how these ideas come to life in a city:

Regular Content-Oriented Meetups that are Startup Generic: 

- The New Tech Boulder Meetup is the event everyone talkes about. It’s taken 5+ years to cultivate the community, but from what I’ve heard, the monthly event is excellent and extremely valuable to attendees. If someone moves to Boulder, this is one of the first stops on their journey to join the startup community.

- Boulder OpenCoffee Club is a bi-weekly morning get together at a local coffee shop where the attendees are lead through a “What’s going on in tech?” discussion. There is one this Tuesday morning and I can’t wait to go.

- Boulder had an excellent IdeaMensch in Boulder last week that had entrepreneurs and CEOs talk about taking an idea and growing it into something magnificent.

Startup-Oriented Event Space: 

I give major kudos to the Boulder Startup Community for being creative in this category. They’ll use coffee shops, co-working spaces, sections of bars and office space to educate the community. “Event space” is a very liberal term to Boulderites. Anywhere that will take them and that is conducive to learning is an “event space.”

More Successful Entrepreneur Involvement:

The Best Boss Ever Spends 20% of his time building up his community. He’s not alone. GNIP, CEO, Chris Moody, TechStars CEO, David Cohen, Sendgrid’s CEO, JIm Franklin, Linksmart’s CEO, Pete Sheinbaum, CEO of Yesware, Matthew Bellows, T.A. McCann, Ari Newman, Howard Diamond, and many many many more CEO’s give their time to help Boulder entrepreneurs through their moments of “getting stuck.”

Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Exclusive Networking:

This occurs at the tale-end of many meetups and education-oriented gatherings, but I don’t think they’re exclusive. This is one of the points I either don’t see/experience or know about in the Boulder Community. The best example of exclusive networking happens at invite-only happy-hours. Startups and exclusivity don’t go hand-in-hand because you’ve got to start somewhere. In Boulder, the community self-polices who they’ll accept into the community. The golden rule is help before asking for help and continue to have a pay-it-forward attitude. It’s pretty simple, but can lead to exclusivity, but that’s okay, because their open community doesn’t want people who don’t bring value.

Tonight, FullContact CEO, Bart Lorang gave an amazing talk about fund raising, startup culture, and shared his story of how he became the “Best Boss Ever” (true title) by providing the innovative Paid Paid Vacation. After the talk, we asked him how much time he spent building the Denver Startup Community. He responded “probably 20% of my time goes into organizing and providing value to the community.” I couldn’t believe it. 20%! Bart’s company just raised a $7mm round, he’s about to get married, and blogs prolifically. It’s his way of passionately giving back and it’s amazing.

Who are the Bart’s in Atlanta’s Startup Community? Successful, proven entrepreneurs giving time with no incentive other than to promote and help the community. How many entrepreneurs can we turn into Barts?

It was quite an inspiring talk this evening. It gave great hope that you can build an awesome company while spending significant time building the community.

Startup Communities are led by entrepreneurs. This fact was clearly displayed when TechCrunch rolled in town bringing more excitement to Atlanta than a Roddy White touchdown. Over 1300 hundred techies, entrepreneurs, and outstanding Atlantans convened in one of our city’s favorite watering hole to talk technology and get face time with a few of the country’s most influential tech writers. 

Let’s take a look at how this technology hoedown transpired and the key factors making it such a success. TechCrunch posted the announcement of their arrival in Atlanta.  I believe it was in the comments (now all them removed) where it was discovered the event venue had yet been decided or confirmed. CodeGuard CEO, David Moeller, stepped up and led the process of finding a venue.

This lead to finding sponsors, co-organizers, and orchestrating the event — all key factors of a successful event. An excellent recap of the evenings success was documented by CodeGuard’s team.   As for the effectiveness of the event, I heard of 2 cases where writers verbally committed to writing an article about an Atlanta startup. Also, the Venture Atlanta team was doing an incredible job of lobbying the writers to come back in October for their annual showcase. Way to take initiative Allyson! The Atlanta community is waiting to be organized in a valuable way; TechCrunch’s meetup was a prime example.

What other ways can Atlanta’s Startup Community organize in a meaningful way? I have my ideas of what’s worked extremely well at TechStars Boulder, but feel free to offer ideas and suggestions in the comments.

Earlier this week over Waffle House grits and hashbrowns, an Atlanta Startup CEO and I began talking about our startup community. I asked him, “What’s the most value a startup community can add to you and your business?”

He simply and brilliantly responded, “I don’t know who to go to when I get stuck.” One of Brad Feld’s core ingredients to a thriving startup community is mentors. Mentors solve the problem of getting stuck.

At TechStars, they solve the “getting stuck” problem in three ways:

1) Every week, the Managing Director, Nicole Glaros, sends us an email asking us “what’s holding us?” or “where are you stuck?” Her number one priority is remove whatever’s getting us stuck.

2) During the first month of the accelerator program, we meet approximately 80-100 TechStars Mentors. These people have been vetted by TechStars as helpful, influential, and effective.

3) Every Wednesday night, the entire TechStars class, 50+ people, meet at 10:10 p.m. We go around the room and tell everyone our “biggest rock” of the week. In other words, what’s the most important item for each person to accomplish the upcoming week. If you accomplish your big rock, expensive tequila for you, if your big rock isn’t accomplished, Pitch and Putt’s finest bottom shelf tequila shots instead. Besides the tequila shots, the social pressure and group mentorships helps identify and push through your moments of being stuck.

How do you and your business get past the moment of being stuck?

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